bone diseases

What to know about bone diseases

What to know about bone diseases

Various medical conditions and bone diseases have the potential to impact the strength and flexibility of bones, thereby leading to potential health complications.

Bone is an active and evolving tissue primarily composed of collagen and calcium. Bones form a firm framework known as the skeleton, offering protection to delicate organs and giving structural support to the body.

There are two distinct types of bone present in the human body. Cortical bones, which constitute the outer layer, are compact and dense. On the other hand, trabecular or cancellous bones form the inner layer of bones, exhibiting a spongy composition and honeycomb-like structure. While bones serve the vital function of safeguarding organs against injury, they also facilitate bodily movement and offer support. Furthermore, bones act as a reservoir for essential minerals like calcium.

The flexibility and strength of bones can be adversely affected by certain conditions or diseases. These conditions can stem from a variety of sources, including genetic factors, environmental influences, dietary deficiencies, and infections.

Some common bone diseases include:

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone diseases that is characterized by a reduction in bone mass and mineral density, accompanied by changes in the quality and structure of the bone. This condition weakens the bones and heightens the risk of fractures. While the risk of osteoporosis escalates with age, it can affect individuals of all ethnic backgrounds. Non-Hispanic white females and Asian females are particularly susceptible to this condition.

Osteopenia

Osteopenia is a term used to describe a condition where there is a decline in bone mineral density that falls below the normal range, but it is not severe enough for a doctor to diagnose it as osteoporosis.

A T-score is a metric used to assess bone density. If an individual’s T-score falls between -1 and -2.5, they would typically be diagnosed with osteopenia. However, if their T-score goes below -2.5, it would be classified as osteoporosis. It is worth noting that the prevalence of osteopenia is 4 times higher in females than in males. 

Paget’s Disease

Paget’s disease is a condition that impacts the bone remodeling process. It involves the body breaking down old bone tissue and replacing it with new bone tissue.

In individuals with Paget’s disease, the bone-rebuilding process occurs at an accelerated pace, leading to an abnormal bone structure. This can either lead to softer or larger bones, which increases their vulnerability to complications like bending or fractures.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a disorder characterized by the propensity for bones to fracture easily. It is sometimes referred to as a brittle bone disease. The condition arises from genetic mutations or changes in the genes responsible for producing type I collagen, a crucial protein essential for maintaining bone strength.

Individuals with a family history of O face a higher risk of inheriting the disease, as the gene mutation can be passed down from one or both parents. OI encompasses various types, with type I being the most prevalent and least severe, while type II is regarded as the most severe form of the condition.

Osteonecrosis

Osteonecrosis, also referred to as avascular necrosis or aseptic necrosis, occurs when the blood flow to a bone is disrupted, resulting in the death of bone tissue. As a consequence, the affected bone may deteriorate and the joint can eventually collapse.

Osteonecrosis can potentially affect any bone in the body, but it is frequently observed in the shoulders, hips, and knees. This condition predominantly occurs in individuals between the ages of 20 and 50. Those affected by osteonecrosis often have a history of factors such as trauma, long-term corticosteroid usage, or excessive alcohol consumption.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis happens to be the most prevalent form of arthritis. It primarily affects the joints by causing the gradual breakdown of cartilage, the protective tissue covering the joint surfaces. In addition, osteoarthritis can alter the shape of bones over time. The hands, hips, and knees are commonly affected by osteoarthritis, being the areas most frequently impacted by this condition.

Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is a condition characterized by infection or inflammation within the bone, with “myelitis” specifically referring to the inflammation of the fatty tissues found inside the bone. This condition commonly arises when a bacterial or fungal infection enters the bone either through the bloodstream or from the surrounding tissues. Although osteomyelitis can occur at any age, it is more frequently observed in young children.

Fibrous Dysplasia

Fibrous dysplasia is a condition characterized by the replacement of healthy bone tissue with abnormal fibrous tissue. The presence of this atypical scar-like tissue weakens the affected bone, leading to changes in its shape and increased susceptibility to fractures.

Fibrous dysplasia commonly arises from a gene mutation that causes bone cells to produce an abnormal type of fibrous bone. While this condition can develop in any bone of the body, it is frequently observed in the thigh bone, shin bone, ribs, skull, humerus, and pelvis.

Bone Cancer And Tumors

Bone cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer that originates from the uncontrolled growth of cells within a bone. It can develop from any type of cell present in the bone, leading to the formation of cancerous cells.

Primary bone cancers are cancers that originate within the bone itself. The two most prevalent types of primary bone cancers are osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma. In addition to primary bone cancers, cancer cells can spread to the bone from other parts of the body, a condition known as bone metastases. Bone metastases are more likely to develop in the spine.

Osteomalacia

Osteomalacia, a condition commonly referred to as bone softening, occurs when the process of bone formation fails to result in proper hardening. Mineralization is the term used to describe the process in which minerals create a tough outer shell by coating the inner layer of the bone. As a result, the collagen component of the bone remains soft and susceptible to damage.

Rickets

Rickets is one of the bone diseases which primarily affects children and shares similarities with osteomalacia. It is characterized by imperfect mineralization of the bones, leading to soft and weak bone structure. Rickets is often caused by a deficiency in vitamin D, a vital nutrient for the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus, which are crucial for proper bone development and growth. Insufficient vitamin D levels can arise from factors such as inadequate nutrition, limited sun exposure, or difficulties in nutrient absorption.

Autoimmune Conditions

An autoimmune condition arises when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own cells, tissues, and organs. Some autoimmune diseases can lead to the development of bone-related disorders, thereby increasing the risk of complications like bone loss and fractures. Examples of autoimmune diseases associated with bone-related complications include:

Type I diabetes: It is a condition in which individuals produce minimal or no insulin, leading to difficulties in the body’s absorption of sugar from food. It is notable that people with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone density and strength.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): This medical condition can cause inflammation throughout various areas of the body. Certain treatment choices for SLE may increase the vulnerability to bone density reduction and fractures.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): This condition triggers an immune system response that attacks the protective membranes surrounding the joints and leads to cartilage degradation. Individuals with RA face an elevated risk of experiencing bone loss and fractures.

Celiac disease: This disorder prompts the body to develop an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in common food items like wheat, rye, and barley. The immune system reacts by attacking and damaging the lining of the small intestine. When left untreated, individuals with celiac disease may encounter bone complications due to challenges in absorbing calcium, an essential nutrient for maintaining strong and healthy bones.

Symptoms

Symptoms of bone diseases can vary depending on the specific condition, and in some cases, individuals may not experience any noticeable symptoms at all. For instance, osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent” disease since it typically does not manifest any symptoms until a bone fracture actually takes place.

Causes And Risk Factors

Various factors can contribute to the development of bone diseases, with certain causes being specific to particular types of bone disorders. These causes can encompass a range of factors such as:

Genetics: The risk of developing a specific bone disease can be elevated in individuals due to genetic factors. This can be attributed to mutations or alterations in genes, as well as a family history of bone diseases. Inheritance of gene mutations from one or both parents can contribute to an increased susceptibility to such conditions.

Ageing: As individuals age, their bones undergo a natural process where the mineral content starts to decline. This leads to a decrease in bone density and an increase in fragility.

Nutrition: For strong, healthy bones, a balanced diet is crucial. People need to take enough calcium and vitamin D, in particular.

Problems with bone remodelling: After the age of 20, a person may have an imbalance in which the body degrades old bone tissue more quickly than it can repair it. Loss of bone quality and strength can result from this.

Hormonal changes: The risk of getting osteoporosis may rise as a result of hormonal imbalances. For instance, low testosterone levels or low oestrogen levels during menopause might raise a person’s risk of osteoporosis.

Medications: The chance of developing bone disease may be increased by several drugs. Corticosteroids, thyroid medications, and medications that lower sex hormone levels, for instance, can all be detrimental to bone health.

Lifestyle factors: One can be prone to osteoporosis by leading a lifestyle characterised by insufficient physical exercise, smoking, and binge drinking.

Diagnosis 

For a diagnosis of a bone issue, a patient must make an appointment with a physician. When seeing a patient, doctors generally initiate the process by inquiring about the person’s medical history. Inquiries like how long they have had any symptoms and whether there is a history of bone disease in the family may be included in this.

In order to determine the sort of bone disease a patient has, the doctor could additionally request the following tests:

X-ray imaging: A dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan is the most typical X-ray imaging technique that a physician may employ. By utilizing a limited amount of X-rays, this procedure measures the bone mineral density in the body.

MRI scans: This examination generates a thorough picture of the body using a magnet, showing the bones as well as other tissues including cartilage and ligaments.

Blood tests: To aid with a bone cancer diagnosis and to reveal the stage of the disease, a doctor may request blood tests.  

Biopsy: In order to provide an accurate diagnosis, a doctor might take a small amount of bone tissue from the affected area.

Treatments

Depending on the kind of bone disease present and its severity, the best course of action will be determined. For instance, in the case of osteoporosis and osteopenia, the aim is to arrest additional bone loss and avoid fractures. Consequently, treatment could involve – recommending nutritional guidance, modifying one’s lifestyle by giving up smoking and engaging in greater physical activity, implementing steps to lower the risk of falls in order to avoid fractures and prescribing medication.

There are some conditions, including OI, for which there are currently no effective treatments. As a result, the aim of treatment is to enhance bone density and muscular strength while preventing or controlling symptoms. A person with OI may get physical therapy in addition to medicine to increase muscular strength and mobility.

When to contact a doctor

It is recommended that a person get medical attention if they fracture a bone or possess symptoms like bone pain. Additionally, if they observe a change in their posture, height, weight, or walking movement, they should see a doctor. This is significant because early detection can stop the illness from spreading.

Summary

Diseases of the bones are conditions that affect their strength or flexibility. In addition to an increased risk of bone fractures, they may cause symptoms including bone pain and mobility issues. Ageing, genetics, hormonal changes, and dietary inadequacies are only a few of the numerous possible causes of these disorders. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and not getting enough exercise are all lifestyle choices that can lead to bone disease.

To detect illnesses in the bones, a doctor might do tests. A physician can recommend an appropriate course of therapy after making a diagnosis, which may entail medication, a change in lifestyle, and/or surgery.

If you have any questions or want information on managing your orthopaedic issues don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Bengaluru-560043 Phone: 080-4370 1281 Mobile: 9591618833

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